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New challenge for Auckland's Future Aces

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Auckland Cricket’s best Under-19 cricketers will have a war on their hands when they take on a Kookaburra New Zealand Croatia XI in a 50-over game in Auckland on Tuesday, says New Zealand Croatia captain John Vujnovich.

A former Auckland A player who also represented Croatia’s national side in Europe, Vujnovich says his side will be using their own blend of rising cricket stars and experience to test the Future Aces - the young guns who have been nurtured in Auckland Cricket’s elite development programme over the 2014 winter.

"The ethos of our New Zealand Croatia club is to do whatever we can to assist the development of young cricketers in Auckland and beyond. But we’re also very proud to be representing our Kiwi Croatian heritage together, so there’s no quarter given. We don’t play gentle old ‘golden oldies’ games, so they had better turn up to play!"

New Zealand Croatia features three former international players in medium pace all-rounder Vujnovich, wicketkeeper Anthony Govorko and batsman Anton Vujcich, who have all represented Croatia at ICC international level. New Zealand Croatia is meanwhile very much a New Zealand-based club open to players of Croatian descent.

Vujnovich and Govorko were part of the New Zealand Croatia side that beat Northern Maori (the Maori representative team of Northern Districts Cricket) at Smallbone Park, Rotorua on Sunday - a strong Maori selection that included ND’s District Player of the Year, Josh Bates.

With its ethos of developing young players, New Zealand Croatia has also brought in three young Suburbs New Lynn premier grade reps into its squad as invited players for the fixture against the Future Aces. Quick bowler Josh Presland and allrounder Temepare Hodson both represented the team on its recent unbeaten series against the Cook Islands national team in Rarotonga while exciting 19-year-old right-hand batsman James Parslow has been widely compared to a young Martin Crowe, after having been a standout performer in his years at Crowe’s alma mater, Auckland Grammar.

Young offspinning batsman Charles Bevin will also make his New Zealand Croatia debut and Vujnovich is keen for other players of Croatian descent to make contact with the unique, fast-growing club. "The connection means we feel very much like one big family, this team, with us all playing for each other and a lot of pride in what it means to be representing Kiwi Croatians."

"For the older players among us, it’s also all about creating experiences and high standards to help develop the up-and-comers both in our own team and our opponents’. We give them exposure to touring and to testing themselves both alongside and against some very experienced, accomplished players in a competitive environment - for some that’s a hard-nosed style they may not have stepped into and up to before."

New Zealand Croatia’s first-class players Joseph Yovich and Dusan Hakaraia and Auckland A rep Michael Ravlic were unavailable for the match which begins at 10.30am at St Kentigern’s College this Tuesday 2 December. The fixture was the brainchild of Jason Mills, the man behind cricket and hockey equipment suppliers Kookaburra in New Zealand, with the potential for an annual match between the sides.


John Vujnovich (c)

James Banicevich

Jason Brajkovic

Charles Bevin

Anthony Govorko (w)

Daniel Marsic

James Parslow

Dominic Smith-Hodgson

Temepare Hodson

James Piskulic

Josh Presland

Matthew Vujcich

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